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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Colombia: Central

The Eastern and Central Cordilleras and the Magdalena Valley

Friday 28 June to Monday 8 July 2024
with Fabrice Schmitt as leader
June - July 2025
with Fabrice Schmitt as leader

Price: $3,950 (06/2024)

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Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, the star of the Rio Blanco feeders! Photo: Fabrice Schmitt

With more than 1,900 species having been recorded in the country, including no fewer than 80 endemics, Colombia is truly a birder’s paradise, where flocks of beautiful tanagers, endemic and unique birds, skulking antpittas and tapaculos, challenging tyrant-flycatchers, colorful cotingas and trogons, sparkling hummingbirds and so much more await.

Over the last decade, ecotourism has developed strongly in Colombia, and birdwatchers are welcome everywhere. Feeding stations have sprung up all over the country and it’s now possible to admire and photograph dozens of species of buzzing hummingbirds or multicolored tanagers while sipping a cup of Colombian coffee! Even shy antpittas are fed with worms and can be observed up close, sometimes just one or two meters away!

Our Central Colombia tour explores the Eastern and Central Cordilleras and the Magdalena Valley. We’ll visit a variety of habitats from high-altitude paramo with Espeletia and montane humid forests of both cordilleras to tropical dry forests in the Magdalena Valley. We’ll enjoy a relaxed pace, alternating between walks in natural environments and pauses for quiet observation of hummingbirds and tanagers – a fantastic introduction to Colombia, and to South America in general.

In 2025, this tour can be taken in conjunction with our new tour, Colombia: The Western Cordillera and Cauca Valley (details coming soon!) 

Day 1: You’ll be met on arrival in Bogotá and transferred to our hotel where the tour begins this evening. Night in Bogotá.

Day 2: We’ll set off early this morning for a two-hour drive to Chingaza National Park, where amongst beautiful Andean scenery we’ll look for the endemic Brown-breasted Parakeet, near endemic Mattoral Tapaculo and Rufous-browed Conebill, and a host of high elevation and temperate forest species including Andean Guan, Bronze-tailed Thornbill, Muisca Antpitta, White-chinned Thistletail, Golden-fronted Redstart and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager. After lunch near the town of La Calera, we’ll head towards the ‘Observatorio de Colibries’ (Hummingbirds Observatory), our first hummingbird feeding station. Enjoying a cup of coffee, we expect to see, amongst numerous Sparkling Violetears, a few White-bellied Woodstars, Glowing Pufflegs, Tyrian Metaltails or even the unique and impressive Sword-billed Hummingbird. The endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet also occasionally visits the feeders, and Red-crested Cotinga is often seen in the garden. After a fun first day filled with birds, we’ll return to Bogota. Night in Bogota.

Day 3: After an early breakfast, we’ll spend a few hours in La Florida Park, a marsh and lake close to the international airport where our targets include a vulnerable Colombian endemic, the Bogota Rail, along with other specialties like Spot-flanked Gallinule and Yellow-hooded Blackbird. We’ll then drive to lower elevation. If time permits, we’ll make a stop at Laguna Tabacal, a popular place where we can find Plain-colored Tanager, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet or Chestnut-capped Warbler. But the main attraction on the way to La Victoria is the amazing Jardin Encantado, where dozens of feeders attract sometimes hundreds of hummingbirds, among them the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird, the widespread Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and White-vented Plumeleteer, and localized Gorgeted Woodstar. After visiting this very unique place, we will spend most of the afternoon driving to La Victoria. Night in La Victoria.

Day 4: We’ll spend our morning in the forest above La Victoria looking for several endemics including Sooty Ant-Tanager, Beautiful Woodpecker, White-mantled Barbet and Colombian Chachalaca. The forest here is home to many birds, and we are sure to encounter a host of common species. Manakins are especially well-represented with the possibility of White-bearded, White-bibbed, Striolated and Golden-headed. We’ll also keep an eye out for the endemic White-footed Tamarin, a primate which is being intensively studied at this site. In the afternoon, we’ll visit a small lake which we’ll explore by canoe and where many wetland species await us including Northern Screamer, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-collared Hawk, Rufescent Tiger-Heron and more! Night in Mariquita.

Day 5: We’ll have a full morning birding the dry forest near Laguna del Hato where we hope to see the endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia, both Jet and White-bellied Antbirds, Northern White-fringed Antwren, Barred and Russet-throated Puffbirds, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Barred Antshrike and possibly White-eared Conebill or Crested Bobwhilte. As we will be at low elevation in the dry Magdalena Valley, it will be quite hot by mid-morning but the bird activity always stays very good here. After lunche we’ll make our way to Ibague and then up into the cooler temperatures of Combeima Canyon, where we’ll spend two nights in a pleasant country hotel. Night near Ibague.

Day 6: This morning we’ll be up early for our forty-minute hike to the small and lovely Ukuku Lodge, where we will station ourselves in the lounge to wait for the arrival of the endemic Tolima Doves that often visit the seeded lawn at dawn. (This hike can be done on horseback for those who prefer not to walk.) Hopefully having seen this enigmatic species, we will then stake out some flowers in the garden in the hope of Tolima Blossomcrown. The gardens themselves are very birdy and along with a third endemic – Yellow-headed Brush finch – we also hope to enjoy a good selection of hummers and tanagers at the various feeders. We will have breakfast and lunch here and then make a slow hike back to our hotel, with the possibility of Torrent Duck and Torrent Tyrannulet along the river. Night near Ibague.

Day 7: After our relaxing day, we’ll depart for ‘El Reposo de los Picaflores’ for another breakfast in front of hummingbird and tanager feeders! While enjoying our coffee and arepas (Colombian traditional breakfast) we should see Andean Emerald, Acorn Woodpecker, Southern Emerald-Toucanet or Blue-necked Tanager. If we haven’t seen it at Ukuku, we have another chance for Tolima Blossomcrown here. Then we’ll continue onward to Otun Quimbaya Ecological Reserve, near La Suiza. We’ll probably arrive for lunch, and after a short break at the hotel we’ll have an afternoon of birding at the reserve. Here we’ll look for Collared Trogon, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Black-winged Saltator or a gorup of Colombian Red Howler monkeys. Night near Otun Quimbaya Sanctuary. 

Day 8: We’ll be birding all morning along a beautiful track through good forest at 6,500 feet. The endemic Cauca Guan is reasonably common here, and we also have a chance of seeing the stunning Torrent Duck or the elusive Crested Ant-Tanager. We’ll be on the lookout for the endemic Multicolored Tanager, as well as exciting mixed-species feeding flocks. Another attraction of this site is Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and we hope to obtain great views of this large and impressive cotinga. After a full morning birding at Otun Quimbaya, we’ll have lunch and make our way towards Manizales. Night in a country hotel just outside Manizales.

Day 9: Today we’ll visit the Rio Blanco reserve for a long but bird-filled day. We’ll arrive early and bird around the small lodge, looking for such species as Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Sickle-winged Guan, Green-and-black Fruiteater and Black-collared Jay. About an hour after dawn, we’ll be led by a local guide to special antpitta feeding stations where we hope to enjoy close-up views of the endemic Brown-banded Antpitta and the impressive Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. We also have a good chance of seeing Bicolored, Chestnut-naped, and Slate-crowned Antpittas, all of which visit various feeding stations in the forest off and on throughout the year. Much of the remainder of the day will be spent exploring the excellent network of trails. The mixed flocks at this site are often large and varied and we will hope to connect with several species of hemispingus, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Pearled Treerunner and many tanagers. This site is also rich in skulkers, and we’ll be looking for several tapaculos and the elusive Masked Saltator. We’ll take a break for lunch at the lodge and enjoy the spectacular hummingbird show at the feeders and then then continue birding at the reserve all afternoon. Night outside Manizales.

Day 10: Today we’ll have a full morning at Hacienda El Bosque above Manizales where various feeding stations attract great birds such as Andean Guan, White-throated Quail-Dove and Gray-browed Brushfinch. The beautiful Barred Fruiteater is often spotted grabbing worms thrown to the Equatorial Antpitta, and even Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans come in to fruit! This is also the only place where it is possible to see the charismatic Crescent-faced Antpitta coming in to get some worms, even if like any superstar, its appearance is never guaranteed. After a full morning at this unique location (including breakfast and lunch there) we’ll head toward Nevado del Ruiz National Park, spending part of the afternoon looking for Paramo Tapaculo, White-banded Tyrannulet, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, and Black-backed Bush-Tanager amidst spectacular scenery. The hotel where we are staying tonight has a great pool with thermal waters, so don’t forget your swimsuit to enjoy it! Night at Thermas del Ruiz.

Day 11: We’ll have a full morning to bird the high elevation Nevado del Ruiz National Park (13,000 feet) for a second chance to bird the paramo zone, on the lookout for the endemic and very localized Rufous-fronted Parakeet. Flowering bushes attract a variety of colorful hummingbirds including Viridian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg and Shining Sunbeam. On occasion, the nomadic Black-thighed Puffleg can be present in some numbers, but at other times it’s absent. Tawny Antpittas are often very tame here and we’ll also search for the dazzling Buffy Helmetcrest. We’ll return to the hotel for lunch where you’ll have a last chance to bathe in the sulphureous waters or to enjoy the feeders attracting some of the high-elevation hummingbirds of the area, as well as Lacrimose Tanager and Masked Flowerpiercer. After lunch we’ll drive on to Pereira to conclude the tour with a great farewell dinner. Night in Pereira.

Day 12: The tour ends this morning with transfer to Pereira airport.


Updated: 12 July 2024


  • 2024 Tour Price : $3,950
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $290
  • 2025 Tour Price Not Yet Available


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Questions? Tour Manager: Erin Olmstead. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

This tour is limited to eight participants with one leader.

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